Interview with Anni Mikkonen, CEO, Finnish Wind Power Association (FWPA)
Baltic InteGrid: Wind energy capacity is steadily increasing in Finland. Last year Finland made headlines by building the first offshore wind farm for icy conditions. How do you expect the offshore wind market to develop in Finland in the upcoming years?
Anni Mikkonen: The conditions (wind, water depth, waves etc) for offshore wind power in Finnish waters are excellent. There will be certainly more offshore wind farms constructed in Finland – as soon as there is more political will to support offshore wind or the production costs of offshore wind come further down compared to current costs.
There are notable offshore project pipelines for Finnish waters. The 288 MW offshore wind power plant holds a building permit compatible with the water act, and six more (almost 1,200 MW) have completed environmental impact assessments. Aplenty of other good sites are available for project developments.
We expect the offshore construction to continue in the 2020’s.
Baltic InteGrid: What are currently the main challenges for offshore wind power in Finland?
Anni Mikkonen: The supply chain for offshore wind power is currently underdeveloped in Finland. On one hand, there is for example not enough (or at all) suitable vessels for construction and maintenance. On the other hand, there are no customers, i.e. developers, who would be ready to construct offshore wind power at this stage.
The costs of offshore wind power are still rather high compared to that of onshore wind power and plenty of good onshore sites are still available. In 2015, the state granted a demonstration subsidy for one offshore wind farm to study offshore wind power construction in arctic conditions. Another such subsidy is not foreseen to take place in near future.
Currently the impact of wind farms on military radar systems is preventing wind power construction in the South-East and South of Finland. If impacts on radars can be reduced, joint offshore wind development with Estonia could be an option.
Baltic InteGrid: Together with Svenska Kraftnät, Fingrid is currently considering a new subsea interconnection between Sweden and Finland which would replace Fenno Skan 1. Do you see any benefit of integrating one or more offshore windfarms in such interconnections (“WindConnector”)?
Anni Mikkonen: Offshore wind power should be taken into account when planning the interconnection between Finland and Sweden. It would be ideal if the location of the interconnection was planned so that the potential sites for offshore wind power production are taken into account. In that way future wind power projects could get the greatest benefits from the connection.
Baltic InteGrid: The Baltic InteGrid project wants to establish a long-lasting interdisciplinary expert platform, the so-called Baltic Offshore Grid Forum (BOGF). The BOGF connects stakeholders to discuss the potentials and challenges of a meshed offshore grid. What format and structure would be of added value for your organisation and what would be your expectations from a collaboration with the BOGF?
Anni Mikkonen: FWPA is a non-governmental organisation that promotes wind energy and increases the wind energy knowledge in Finland. FWPA is also active in public and political discussions concerning wind energy issues. The association is very much in favour of all the projects that try to cut down the costs of wind power or otherwise make it easier to construct wind power in Finland. The BOGF is one example of such projects. We expect to offer networking possibilities to our members as well as actual solutions on how meshed offshore grids could be beneficial for offshore wind power.
Baltic InteGrid: Thank you!